April 18, 2007


Robert Dallek on Nixon and Kissinger (Scott Shane, April 18, 2007, NY Times)

Robert Dallek sat in the National Archives day after day, mining the 20,000 pages of Henry Kissinger's telephone transcripts for historical gold. And every so often, amid the blur of bureaucratic tedium, a little nugget would glitter. One was the Nixon-Kissinger phone call reacting to news of the 1973 coup in Chile that overthrew Salvador Allende, whose Socialist government they had worked covertly to undermine through the CIA.

Kissinger grumbled to the president that American newspapers, "instead of celebrating," were "bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown."

"Isn't that something?" Nixon remarked.

"In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes," Kissinger said.

"Well, we didn't - as you know - our hand doesn't show on this one," the president said.

This brilliant, devious duo is glimpsed in a moment of gloating camaraderie, even as Watergate was bringing the presidency down around them. History, Dallek said, resides in such details.

You pretty much have to be an intellectual to think thatv the quirks of two men have any historical significance whatsoever when compared to the liberation of a key ally from the nightmare of Communism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 18, 2007 7:27 PM
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